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    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I am open to PhD applications in the fields of: - Violence, Terrorism and Security

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Personal profile

Research Interests

Dr Andrew Thomson is a lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast and a Fellow at the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice. His research interests reside primarily in the areas of conflict analysis, political violence, and US foreign policy with a focus on pro-government militias, state violence, the dynamics of violence in civil war, civilians in civil war and civilian defence forces, private military companies and other non-state armed actors, counterinsurgency, and “irregular” warfare. These broad research interests are divided into three primary strands. First, he focuses on the role of non-state armed actors or paramilitary agents such as militias and mercenaries in US imperialism.  His book, Outsourced Empire: How Militias, Mercenaries and Contractors Support US Statecraft, examines practices of working with or through such actors in US foreign interventions for the "stabilization" of arrangements beneficial to US interests in target countries. Secondly, he is interested in empirical studies on pro-government militias in civil wars.  He is currently working on a series of articles on the effects of mobilizing civilian self-defence forces on the dynamics of violence in civil conflict as well as on the lasting long-term effects they may have on peace processes. He is specifically interested in how using civilians as combatants or security forces in counterinsurgency settings, as in Peru during the 1980s or in Iraq with the Sons of Iraq program, affect insurgent targets of violence, prompting significant questions regarding national and human security. Finally, he also focuses on the current peace process in Colombia in the context of multiple warring actors. He recently completed a project funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund on how FARC members’ interactions with other armed organizations influenced their disarmament process. 

He is also on the governing council of the Conflict Research Society (CRS), running the CRS Book of the Year Prize.

He is open to considering supervision of PhD projects around those three research focuses or more broadly on in the areas of conflict analysis, political violence and US Foreign Policy. He currently first and second supervises various projects, including supervision for Fabian Fandino Espejo on the connections between multi-national corporations (MNCs) and violence as well as these actors’ roles in post-conflict environments.



Dr. Andrew Thomson currently teaches on a variety of classes at the undergraduate and post-graduate levels:

PAI 2055 Security and Terrorism

PAI 3038 US Foreign Policy

PAI 7007 Global Terrorism

PAI 7028 Violence, Terrorism and Security

He also contributes regularly to a variety of other classes in areas such as conflict intervention, conflict transformation and peace processes, international security, international relations, American politics, among others and specialist classes such as at the Institute for Global Peace Security and Justice Summer School. 

He regularly supervises MA and undergraduate dissertations on terrorism, US foreign policy, the War on Terror, state violence, counterinsurgency, among many other related topics. 

In he was awarded a Teaching Award 2015 - Student-nominated category of Queen’s University Belfast Teaching Awards 2015 and also received a Post Graduate Certificate in Higher Education (PGCHE) in 2012.


Andrew was born in Oxford, UK, is of Irish descent but was raised in Colombia and the United States before returning to England for university. In 2007 he received BA in Politics and International Relations (1st class honours) from University of Kent and in 2008 an M.A. in International Relations from University of Sussex. He then completed a PhD at the University of Kent in International Relations in 2013, moving to Queen’s University Belfast shortly afterwards.  Andrew is fluent in Spanish and a basic understanding of Portuguese, French, and Italian.

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  • 26 Similar Profiles
militia Social Sciences
violence Social Sciences
peace process Social Sciences
demobilization Social Sciences
disarmament Social Sciences
Colombia Social Sciences
Iraq Social Sciences
civil war Social Sciences

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Research Output 2010 2019

Ethnic Conflict and Militias

Thomson, A., 01 Sep 2019, The Palgrave Handbook of Ethnicity. Ratuva, S. (ed.). New York: Palgrave Macmillan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

ethnic conflict
militia force
ethnic mobilization
civil defense
38 Downloads (Pure)

The Ties that Bind: Ethnicity, Pro-Government Militia and the Dynamics of Violence in Civil War

Abbs, L., Clayton, G. & Thomson, A., 12 Nov 2019, In : The Journal of Conflict Resolution . p. 1-43

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
civil war
4 Citations (Scopus)

A precarious peace? The threat of paramilitary violence to the peace process in Colombia

Maher, D. & Thomson, A., Dec 2018, In : Third World Quarterly. 39, 11, p. 2142-2172 31 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

peace process
paramilitary group

Review of The Para-State: an Ethnography of Colombia’s Death Squads

Thomson, A., 05 Jan 2018, In : Bulletin of Latin American Research.

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article review


Teaching Awards 2015

Andrew Thomson (Recipient), 2015

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

university teaching

Activities 2011 2020

Journal of Peace Research (Journal)

Andrew Thomson (Peer reviewer)
10 Jan 2020

Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPublication peer-review

Loyola University Visit

Andrew Thomson (Recipient)
09 Jan 2020

Activity: Other activity typesHosting a school group or open day

Springer (Publisher)

Andrew Thomson (Peer reviewer)
27 Jan 2019

Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPublication peer-review

New Perspectives on Non-State Political Violence

Andrew Thomson (Participant)
22 Nov 2019

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

The Darker Side of Peace Agreements

Andrew Thomson (Invited speaker)
12 Apr 2019

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited or keynote talk at national or international conference